Expatica news

Britons eye Portuguese holidays as businesses seek to woo back tourists

103portugal holidayThe cost of flights and holidays to Portugal is likely to remain low as demand will struggle to pick up quick enough to save summer for the tourism-dependent economies of some regions, despite the country’s removal from the UK’s quarantine list, say experts. 

Portugal ended its long wait for a ‘travel corridor’ this Thursday evening, with Britons home after 4am on Saturday no longer required to quarantine for 14 days. 

However, travel industry insiders warned the move was “too late” to save the Portuguese summer for many businesses, with a fortnight until students return to schools in the UK.

Jenny Brydon, a spokesperson for TravelSupermarket, said in an interview with the Telegraph newspaper that she expected initial prices “to remain competitive to stimulate demand”, citing self-catering deals in the Algarve for under £300 for a week.

“Although when flights start to reach capacity, this will go up, so I’d get in fast,” she added. 

Emma Coulthurst, an analyst at the comparison site, told press that prices should “remain keen”. “Prices in the next few weeks start from less than £150 per person for accommodation and return flight to the Algarve for seven nights,” she commented. 

“With demand down across the board this summer, compared with a normal summer, we’d expect prices to remain keen. It’s a bargain destination for the holiday price but also when you get there.”

There has been, however, already been a bump in air fares to Portugal for flights taking off next week. Skyscanner, the flight comparison website, revealed that searches spiked 2,000 per cent against the average in the wake of Thursday’s announcement, but that fares remained “very attractive” for August and September. 

Jo McClintock, senior brand director for Skyscanner, stated that: “Travellers in the UK are reacting to changes as they happen and are coming onto Skyscanner to look and book their travel as soon as they know they can get away within the restrictions, generally travelling within a very short time of booking.”

Jet2 is due to resume holidays throughout Portugal from August 24, with Tui to follow on August 29. The former is offering week-long holidays to the Algarve from £930 per person beginning the day it resumes operations, with the latter selling a week from £498.

Nicky Kelvin, a travel expert from The Points Guy UK, said the booking rush will not be as large as anticipated. “We are seeing some great deals right now on flights to Portugal although when people start to book, the rush won’t be as significant as it was for Spain for example when that travel corridor opened up,” he said. 

“We are also coming to the end of the summer holidays, so families are less likely to be booking trips now. Another reason the rush won’t be as significant is because there are still other options in Europe for people to travel to including Greece and Turkey.”

He said that the risk of Portugal being returned to the quarantine list could also deter bookings. “Now people know the rules can change very quickly and a quarantine can be implemented at any time,” he said. “This has led to much more caution from holidaymakers.”

Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2, announced this week that the airline was adding more flights to the Algarve to meet expected demand. “We want our customers to enjoy their well-deserved holidays, and our decision to act quickly and add even more capacity to Faro ensures they will have plenty of choice,” he said.

“With flights and holidays operating to Faro, in addition to Madeira, we are thrilled to be offering customers two fantastic options in Portugal when they’re looking to book their well-deserved holiday away from the gloom.”

Furthermore, Ryanair claimed it was launching a flash sale of seats to Portugal from €19.99 one way to celebrate the country’s removal from the quarantine list, bookable by Sunday.